Well, here we are. The worst is over, surely. In my youth, Scotland scarcely noticed Christmas. Commerce put paid to that attitude, decades ago, and by now it is not only us oldies who lack the oomph for another four or five days of celebration. It was once – at least in the country – a four-day Sabbath, an open house involving everybody, house-bound o.a.p,'s, the most severe and reclusive spinster. Even the Mileses went calling. Whiskey and fruit cake and shortbread and good talk – if the host didn't have any (unlikely) the caller would have brought some.
We had a very jolly Christmas, with an excellent bird. On the 26th Helen and her family went off to Strathardle where David, at least – where were his strong sons? – did some valuable work clearing the ditch and moving fallen branches from the driveway in the driving rain. We went to Loch Fyne.
Rachel had told me a day or so before, that Hellie was feeling rather sad that her brother Thomas' bride Lucy is to wear the Princess shawl. She had thought it was hers. I am astonished that any of them paid any attention to it – and I had thought of it as a potential family heirloom, to be passed from bride to bride, But I can see it from Hellie's point of view, too.
I had been thinking anyway of getting back to lace knitting. I bought three balls of their Shetland Supreme 1-ply Lace Weight when I was in Jamieson & Smith's that happy, happy day in September. This was the moment. I took a ball of it along, and cast on the Unst Bridal Shawl.
Sharon Miller wrote the pattern to be knit centre-outwards. I didn't fancy starting with 165 stitches on my elderly and unaccustomed fingers. I cast on the edging, 23 stitches. Even so, I felt for the first couple of repeats that I could never do this. I'm nearly half-way along the first side by now, and it's going better.
Rachel and Ed heroically waited around on Sunday for my husband to be ready – he's a very slow starter – to be driven home, and then brought us here before proceeding to London. Ed is a very good driver, and he was driving a good car, but the speed was out of my comfort zone. I sat n the back there, thinking about knitting.
First, how to assign percentage points for the side bar? It's a wide edging, as edgings go – I have allowed a whole five points per side. Second, the matter we were discussing recently, how to get the whole thing into garter stitch most conveniently? Purling alternate rounds is out.
- The traditional way – knit each border separately, having picked up stitches from its edging. Sew them together at the mitred corners with herringbone stitch.
- What about Madeleine Weston's variation? Knit two borders at a time – that would mean only two seams instead of four. I've got Franklin's Craftsy lesson to help me with herringbone stitch.
- Fleegle's brilliant solution. I've used it once and got a bit tangled up. It depends on your knowing which side of the work is which – I didn't find it as easy as it sounds.
- Throw tradition to the winds, and mix stitches? Edgings in garter stitch, borders in st st, centre in garter stitch? Oh, dear. I think Amedro might have approved, but I don't think Shetland would.
- Then I remembered Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer's solution – knit around, wrap and turn. (I think it was Jackie E-S; I'm not going to pursue it to source just now.) I've done that one, too, and of course it's easy and it works. The corner with the wraps-and-turns has a stronger line than the other three. I remember that my husband saw it and commented on it. I think maybe that's going to be acceptable.
But meanwhile the edging will keep me busy for a bit. And I must knock off soon to finish Milano and Rams&Yowes. Look at it this way: Hellie won't want to schedule a wedding before Thomas & Lucy's day, November 1st. So all I need to achieve is to have the Unst Bridal Shawl – not finished, just in a state from which finishing can be imagined – by that date. Should be possible. Pic soon. Have a good New Year when it comes, all of you.