Thursday, January 31, 2013

Do you know Conrad Aiken’s short story, “Silent Snow, Secret Snow”? My sister introduced me to it, many years ago. It’s sort of scary. It occurred to me yesterday that old age is like that, like snow filling up the crevices, cutting off the options. I’ve just ordered a copy in a reasonably-priced paperback called “50 Great American Short Stories”. I’ll read it again and report back.

I have dealt with the spam problem, for the moment, inspired by Kristie’s comment yesterday, by taking “word verification” off and putting the whole show on moderation. That will mean a delay between your posting a comment and seeing it published – a fairly brief one, much of the time; longer, during the hours I spend under the duvet. That’s what happened to yours, Nanette. (The grown-up Scotland team is travelling to London today. Our new, Australian temporary head coach is a delight on the television news. I wonder if we will see a difference on the field.)

Spam continues at an inconvenient level. They’re all rather similar – in poor English, expressing admiration for the blog, ending “Feel free to visit my website”. My impression is that no two of the websites are the same. Some sound saucy; most not. There were a lot yesterday on the theme of water damage, rather appropriate around here. Needless to say, I wouldn’t dream of clicking on any of them.

Knitting, miscellaneous

Do we know anything about Bargello Knits? I had an email from the Cooperative Press yesterday (thoroughly in favour of them) about a new book of that name, promising to solve the problem of hand-painted yarns which look stunning in the skein and knit up to something resembling vomit. What was it Kaffe said in that talk I heard him give here in Edinburgh a few weeks ago? It was approximately that rude.

Kate Davies has posted (Jan. 29) an essay about the new book, “A Legacy of Shetland Lace”.

Knitting, actual

I have finished the first shoulder of Ed's Gardening Sweater, cast off half, and am knitting across the back neck to make a shirt yoke. After the catalogue of miscalculations you have heard, you will be glad to learn that I paused at the cast-off point, actually to think.

I had inserted some short rows in the back, way back when. That meant that back and front were distinct from each other. That meant that I had to ascertain which was which before casting off half the shoulder stitches. And I did.

Last night on the One Show – we try to avoid it, but it comes on after the news and sometimes we aren’t adroit enough – a pleasant garden-designer woman said, When you have an idea, draw it.

I thought, that could apply to knitting. So I drew – not a schematic, just a sketch – the tee-shirt-like top I am thinking of instead of the Japanese shirt. It looks great. And – serious confession here – I ordered from Loop some skeins of madelinetosh sock yarn to make stripes with the wonderful stuff I’ve already got.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I’ve reached the yoke of Ed’s Gardening Sweater and have started happily across, knitting back and forth on the remaining sleeve stitches, taking in one from the front or back at the end of each row. Except that that doesn’t work very well unless every so often you take in two. It’s looking pretty smooth so far, so I hope my arithmetic is OK here.

I had another little arithmetical blip last night when I was tired and cross, but I think I’ve straightened it out this morning. Meg says, in those articles in Knitter’s, that the neck circumference should be 40% of K. EZ says to knit the yoke as I am doing until 1/3 of the front-and-back stitches have been consumed. There were 78 of them to start with. One-third of 78 is 26. 26 stitches front and 26 stitches back don’t add up to anything like 40% of K.

What I was forgetting is that the yoke stitches themselves will contribute substantially to the circumference of the neck. When that is taken into consideration, it all works out.

This is fun.

Thank you for your comments, as always. LOL, yours about Lucy Neatby’s “afterthought shoulder” video has not yet sent me to look at it, but it has tipped me over the edge into downloading Evernote. This recalcitrant computer has been struggling with that in the background – I’m getting there, and yours will be the first note to be installed.

I am having a lot of trouble with spam, as some may have noticed. I spent so much time this morning – recalcitrance, again – deleting unwanted comments that there is no time left to respond properly to the large crop of serious ones. I have Blogger set up to submit to me for moderation any comment that comes in on a post more than a fortnight old. Those are always junk.

Blogger itself is pretty good at weeding out junk from the more recent ones. But there was a tremendous (by my modest standards) attack yesterday and quite a few were published.

So if I set up a filter, you will understand. And I will hate it, if even one comment is deterred.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Here’s where I am to date with Ed’s Gardening Sweater. I should be ready to start the yoke treatment this very day. The overall size looks more or less plausible – that’s a comfort at this stage.

Assuming for the moment – a pretty safe assumption – that Scotland will not win the Calcutta Cup on Saturday – England have just beaten the All Blacks, for Heaven’s sake; rugby doesn’t get better than that – OK, on that assumption, I have begun to wonder whether I could myself design the garment I want.

Using the yarn meant for the Japanese shirt, that is, striped with something else.

Start with Kate Gilbert’s Kirigami. That's a Ravelry link. I’ve bought the pattern; I’m free to mess about with it. As it stands, it won’t do – all that negative ease, whereas I want something loose and floaty, with a boat neck,  to wear over a polo shirt. Cast on a sleeve as given, knit four or five inches, increase to something more generous for the upper arm to accommodate the short sleeve of the polo shirt beneath, divide for the yoke, knit across (with neck as desired) and down the other sleeve. Pick up stitches around the yoke and knit the body downwards. Nice st st curl at the bottom. Why not?

I could have one-row stripes on the sleeves and body, and two-row stripes across the yoke where I am knitting back and forth. Gilbert seems to maintain one-row throughout. I must have a look at the pattern to see how that is done.

The Ravelry pages showing people’s completed Kirigamis are interesting. Only the slender seem to attempt it, and they are unanimously enthusiastic about the construction. What is an “afterthought shoulder”? I must have some quiet time with that pattern today. I like the dashing neck-treatment, although I’m pretty sure I’d never wear it.

One of the best bits of finishing a project, for me, is this stage of mentally lining up the next one.

Life says that they have expedited the book I ordered, so that’s that problem solved., plugging the latest Anne Cleeves Shetland book, says that the series is Now on BBC Television. That’ll be fun. I’ve read two of the books – Cleeves is the one whose detective-hero actually comes from the Fair Isle – but  I didn’t feel any great compulsion to go on right away. Not like Simon Serailler (Susan Hill). I couldn’t get enough of him, and read all seven in one go.

I’ve ordered “Windows 8 for Dummies”. It couldn’t be as intractable as it seems. Some googling would seem to suggest that it can be made to behave like Windows 7 but I don’t understand how to do it. ("Microsoft Surface for Dummies" won't be published here until the middle of Feb.)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Poor Andy Murray. On we go.

The early evening national news last night didn’t mention him in the headlines, and only got to the item at the end after a lot of football. Even my husband, who is not remotely interested, said “No tennis?” when he heard the headlines. The Scottish news, on the contrary, started in Melbourne and went on to football thereafter, despite having a surprise result to report. (Celtic got beaten.)

I keep thinking, rather irrelevantly, of Kipling’s poem, “Tommy Atkins”:

“Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ‘Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?’
But it’s ‘Thin red line of ‘eroes’ when the drums begin to roll.”

What Murray has got to do is win Wimbledon – and that’s not impossible any more. Then he’ll suddenly find himself an honorary Englishman.

We had a nice weekend with Archie. I have measured the big comfortable Marks & Spencer sweater he was wearing, just in case Scotland win the Calcutta Cup on Saturday. We spent some possibly fruitful time with the Surface. Archie doesn’t like Windows 8.

I have also straightened out, I think. They were apparently trying to use the old credit card number although they know the new one perfectly well, just as knows it. My Amazon password is a highbrow French word. I always imagine a little frisson over there in Paris when I type it in.

I’d feel more kindly disposed towards credit card companies who interfere with my spending – not their fault, this time – if they had paid the slightest attention when I went to Theo and Jenni’s wedding. After years of blameless book-and-yarn buying from Drummond place, I suddenly turned up hiring a car and staying in a hotel in Old Saybrook, CT. The credit card people didn’t bat an eye.


Beverly, that is exciting news about your class with Franklin and the picture of you with him. Here’s the link, from your comment yesterday. I didn’t quite like to post the picture itself, without your permission. No, the class I did with him was lace-in-general, Shetland and Orenburg – do I remember Faroese, or not? – with a scarf pattern of Franklin’s own thrown in. I’d very much like to attend a lace-edging class. He is, in addition to his other charms, a most conscientious teacher, meticulously well-prepared. And very well-informed.

The yoke of Ed’s Gardening Sweater has benefited from all this tennis. A couple more evenings should get me to the exciting shoulder treatment. That will probably go very quickly – I will find myself embarrassingly soon at the what next? moment. Even if Scotland win on Saturday, per impossibile, it’ll take a while for the yarn to get here.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Well, that was grand. I knitted through most of the first three sets, and saw some of the see-saw fourth before deciding that time was running short and I had better go to the supermarket.  When I got back I sat down to log onto to find out what had happened – but I didn’t need to, because there was the answer in your comments. It was a glorious way to find out.

I haven’t much hope for tomorrow, but tennis can turn on so little. There’s always a chance. While I was lying awake that night, listening to Murray beat Djokovic in NY, one of the English commentators said that there is no sport which can turn so dramatically one way and then the other, within seconds.

One of the others present, an American, said, “Cricket”. There was then a delicious silence while the group assimilated the remark.

And meanwhile Rachel’s betting slip isn’t worthless yet. Ladbrokes were right to put Murray on shorter odds than Federer. Djokovic, however, was odds-on, even on Tuesday.


This is interesting as well as confusing, about Kindle editions being available or not, in different jurisdictions.

Yesterday evening I tried to buy an arty book -- a real book, on paper -- for my husband from I’ve made such purchases before – they now send me emails in French from time to time, which makes me feel very grown-up. This one wasn’t outrageously expensive, as art books go. But they wrote, 20 minutes later, to say that, malheureusement, the payment had not gone through.

So now what’s wrong? I tried buying Cazalet (2) for the Kindle this morning – no problem there. Maybe I’ll just go back to France this evening and try ordering again.

Thanks for the information about Mrs Miniver. I will have a substantial use for EverNote, just keeping track of useful suggestions in all your comments. Stashdragon, I am a big Barbara Pym fan, but it’s been a long time since I read her. I think I’m ready to start again. And I had forgotten that there was knitting.

Mary Lou, I’m glad you mentioned “Went the Day Well”. It’s my absolute favourite of British wartime films – and perfect, as propaganda. Somehow or other – it’s been a while since I saw it – a German platoon establishes itself in disguise in an English village, with the connivance of a local toff. The morals are, be alert and don’t trust anybody.

Knitting & Life

I got more of that yoke than usual done yesterday, because of the tennis. It will not be so tomorrow, when Mass-going will have to take precedence.

Archie is coming to see us today. I’ll set him to work on the Surface. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Andy Murray is about to square off against Roger Federer, down there in the Antipathies where they walk with their heads downwards. I think I’ll hunker down with my knitting in front of the television for half an hour.

Rachel phoned last night to thank me for the betting slip. It doesn’t sound as if it is going to sway her feelings. The odds weren’t very good, anyway – a Murray victory is not going to make her rich.

There’s lots I want to say, about reading (thanks for suggestions) and about EverNote (I’m going to give it a try). Not much about knitting. I cut a finger last night, trying to peel a quince, and didn’t get much done as a result. The yoke of Ed’s Gardening Sweater is going to take the better part of another week, I fear, before I get to the exciting shoulder treatment.

QuiltLady:, ask for Elizabeth Jane Howard, find the Cazalet books, choose Kindle edition from the options. £0.79. (Amazon anxiously assured me just now that I had already bought it.) But as someone suggested, this may not work if you're not in the UK. It is all right to order a flesh-and-blood book from an Amazon not your own, but I'm not sure you can do it with Kindle.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Today is Helen’s birthday. You know you’re getting on a bit, when your youngest child turns 50. She managed to avoid coinciding with Burns by a fairly narrow margin, half an hour or so.

I filed the tax and, as feared, there was a (relatively small) amount to pay. Enough, however, to diminish the annual feeling of relief and exhilaration. Apparently they can’t just incorporate it into next year’s tax code unless you file before the end of December. So I’ve learned something.

AnnP, yes, we have tax software. I have messed about with it in my day. But that’s not really the problem. Filing is all quite simple, in fact. I just make a great fuss about having to spread all the papers out, and check that I have added up the interest from various savings accounts, and the dividends from this and that, and that I have the pieces of paper to back up each of the figures I am going to enter, if anybody should ask.

I get the impression that the American tax system is vastly more complicated than ours. My sister and her husband employ an accountant and say that he earns his fees in what he saves them. We used to have one (and it was just as much trouble, to get all the papers in order for him). I have saved us hundreds and hundreds of pounds by doing it myself in recent years, even if I may have missed a deduction here or there.

Thank you for the pointer to Gladys Mitchell’s novels, Mary Lou. I think maybe I should have a look. I am currently reading “The Light Years”, the first of the Cazalet novels by Elizabeth Jane Howard, as recommended by Shandy in her blog. I’m enjoying it, and it costs mere pennies for the Kindle edition. No knitting, so far.

I don’t like the movie of Mrs Miniver, however (this for Mary Lou). Its propaganda purpose, I felt -- no doubt a useful one -- was to create an imaginary Americanized England to reassure America which had just been drawn into the war.  Now that I’ve written the sentence, it doesn’t seem strong enough ground for disliking. It might be interesting for me to look at the book – especially since it includes knitting.

I have recently read “The Thirty Nine Steps”. It is very good, but startlingly different from the movie we all know. Maybe the same is true of Mrs Miniver.

We much enjoy British-made wartime films. We watched Noel Coward’s “In Which We Serve” a couple of days ago. I often wonder what the Germans were doing – they were no slouches at film-making in the 30’s. Did they make films during the war about plucky Germans suffering and dying from the activities of sinister Englishmen?

Thanks for the help on Franklin’s tessellations. SarahSeattle, your work is stunning. This link is to some crochet, a subject not usually admitted here. It’s very remarkable.

That leaves several topics untouched upon – do have a look at the link Heather provided yesterday, of the Shetland ponies having their photo session. And Shandy, I was reassured to learn from your comment that rolls of stair carpet are still out there somewhere.

My own knitting continues to progress. And I continue to measure and recalculate after every decrease. And all continues to seem well.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Income Tax is ready to file, as soon as I’ve had my porridge. Liz Lovick has done hers, and bought a lovely wheel with her lovely rebate. We got a big rebate last year, but then they lowered our code so I am not expecting good news this morning.

The sweater progresses. The slowness of the decreases means that there is no feeling of acceleration such as one has with a raglan yoke. But the size looks plausible.

That’s about all I have had to say about knitting for some time past, I feel. But today there are titbits of knitting news.

We’re about to have an Edinburgh Yarn Festival day, March 16.

These ponies were in the Scotsman yesterday, amongst the snow pictures although there doesn’t appear to be any more snow on Shetland then there is in Drummond Place. (I think that's water in the background.) We’ve seen pictures before now of lambs wearing Fair Isle sweaters, looking as if the children’s cast-offs might have been pressed into service. But the most barrel-chested farmer wouldn’t have anything in his drawer to fit a pony – and these sweaters not only look fresh and new, but also appear to have colour-coordinated to the ponies themselves.

I keep getting emails from Evernote. James is keen on it. This morning on Zite there is a blog entry by a woman who uses it to organise her knitting. Would it have any advantages over Ravelry? Wouldn’t it just consume a lot of fiddle-time that could be better spent knitting?

Zite also has a tantalizing article about Franklin’s Knitted Tesselations class at Vogue Knitting Live. Alas, without photographs or any text by Franklin himself, making it impossible to visualise what is going on. Still, it sounds exciting. Perhaps we will hear more.

Rip Van Winkle in Central Edinburgh

I had a mixed morning yesterday. After polishing off my business with Santander, I went shopping at John Lewis.

I needed a blanket – Old Faithful had started shedding in its old age. Blankets are out. Duvets are everywhere. (We sleep with both, in weather like this.) At last I found a small rack with a poor selection, and bought one of them.

We need a bedside rug. Various searches had come up with nothing. We thought of getting a length of patterned stair carpet – that red Turkey pattern, if that’s the word, which used to cover every stair in Britain. Lewis’s could surely cut a length off and bind the ends for us. There are no stair carpets of any sort at Lewis’s any more. You have to cut a length of broadloom up the middle if you want something for your stairs these days.

(There must be some somewhere. We’ll go on looking.)

I had an idea. There I was at the top of Broughton Street, near Ladbrokes. Rachel says she doesn’t like Andy Murray. I would place a bet on him to win the Australian Open and send her the slip (which she can easily cash in London, if it proves to be worth anything).

So, after discussing the odds with the helpful girl behind the counter, I said I wanted to bet five pounds and added, “…and I’ll pay the tax.”

“We don’t pay tax any more,” she said. (Elderly British gamblers will know what I mean.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The sweater moves forward. I’m pretty sure, by now, that the change of direction of the decrease lines, when I grasped that I was decreasing too fast, won’t hurt. It’ll be a feature, in fact. The lines start off for the first inch and a half going inland at a brisk rate, and then turn north, but it looks OK. I was greatly comforted, Mary Lou and Ron, to learn that you both make that kind of mistake. 

I re-measured and re-calculated yesterday, like the prissy lady in a GPS, and all continues to seem well. As long as the total length I am aiming at, is an appropriate one.

Hat, it’s a kind thought, but I couldn’t lay the Gardening Sweater aside. Nothing is more fun or more soothing than going round and round a yoke, even if the result is fit for no purpose.


Life intervened yesterday morning with my grand plans for the Income Tax, and it did so in rather a stressful fashion, so that by the time a clear half-hour presented itself before lunch I emphatically didn’t feel like approaching the task. Instead, I renewed our New Yorker subscriptions. That proved a very satisfactory expedient. It was a job that was high on the January to-do list, although not quite as high as tax.

But if Knitlass hasn’t done her tax yet, there must be plenty of time.

I give the New Yorker to all four of our children. Three or four years ago, the annual renewal letter failed to turn up. There was some sort of semi-postal-strike in December that year and a few things went missing. I had the letter from the previous year, with everybody’s account number and address label. I logged on to the New Yorker website as each of them in turn, assigned a password to each, and renewed that way.

It’s tedious, but it works, and now I have selected the renew-automatically-and-debit-my-card option on behalf of each of them. That will simplify things in future years but this year I had to go through the whole rigmarole anyway because my credit card number had changed. 

So that’s done.

This morning I must go up to the centre of town, and fear I will be too tired after lunch for much tax-doing. All the hard work, however, is finished: collecting up interest payments and unit trusts and Gift Aid payments and things, entering figures on spreadsheets, printing the spreadsheets and clipping them to the supporting evidence. The tax man wants only the totals, these days, but I always do it conscientiously in case he suddenly swoops.

All that remains is to put the single-payments in order (pensions state & professional, “wayleave” from the Hydro-Board for maintaining electricity pylons on our land; I love that one). And take a deep breath and log on.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Another miscalculation, this one rather more serious.

A few days ago, you will remember, I realised that I had reckoned the depth of the shirt-type yoke using the row tension. And had then grasped that, since it will be knit sideways, it’s the stitch tension that counts. That time, I ripped back to the point where sleeves joined body, and started again.

Last night I counted stitches and felt I was getting too close to the final number too soon. Sure enough: I started with 75 stitches in each sleeve (after leaving however-many behind for the underarm). I needed to decrease to 47, near-enough half of the 96 I had had in all at the top of the sleeve. 75-47= 28 stitches to be decreased.

I had then proceeded to do the arithmetic as if that meant 28 decrease rounds. It doesn’t, of course. It means 14.

This time, I haven’t ripped.  I have sharply reduced the rate of decrease and gone on, fully aware that an even more radical ripping-out may become necessary later on.

EZ wants only 5%-of-K stitches to be left behind at the underarm for this design, and I left more. That may be part of the trouble, but the basic arithmetical mistake is the larger part.

Here’s a picture of progress-to-date. Not a very good one, but you can still get the idea of how wonderful the yarn is.

If I can’t calculate knitting, what sort of mistakes am I making with the Income Tax? I hope to finish that job today, let it ripen for 48 hours because I’ve got something else to do tomorrow, and then file on Wednesday.


Edinburgh is still largely snow-free but some is forecast for today.

The washing machine is leaking. Life doesn’t let up.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A good day, yesterday. The cleaner got a tremendous amount of dirt sucked in to the vacuum cleaner, and I got on well with the Income Tax. I must aim to file it on-line this week. That leaves a few days’ margin-of-error before the end of the month. EZ suggests somewhere that one lie down for a while in a darkened room after cutting a steek. That’s certainly how I feel after a session of on-line Income Tax filing.

Comments: I like the idea, rosesmama, that the White House has a random-card-generator which produced my unexpected greeting. Yes, it’s got Bo in the snow, with the White House vaguely discernible behind. Seasonal, non-denominational. I still suspect Theo or Jenni. The thing to do with it, I have decided, after it has served its time on the mantelpiece here, is to take it to Strathardle. There’s much less paper in that house, and the house itself is much less likely to be cleared for sale in the next 50 years.

I’ll put it in the drawer under my thermal underwear. They’ll find it there when I’m dead – it says “White House” in big writing on the envelope.

Calcutta Cup: there was a little box on one of the sporting pages of the Scotsman this week giving details of Scotland’s four 20th century wins at Twickenham – the stadium in London where the match will be played on Groundhog Day this year. That’s not very many.  I was interested to see that in 1983 Scotland not only won the Calcutta Cup at Twickenham, but lost all their other matches.

A victory this year, most unlikely as it is, would certainly be worth three sweaters – Archie and the Little Boys.

The yoke of the Gardening Sweater goes forward well. The decreases aren’t sensible yet (can that word be used like that?) but I figure every decrease round takes an inch and a half from the circumference so the results should be obvious soon. Safely back on the needles, the sweater doesn’t look too big after all.

Edinburgh’s snow has largely vanished. There’s no reason we shouldn’t attempt Mass-going this morning. I drive my husband up to the Cathedral these days, and then – unless, miraculously, there is a parking space vacant in front of Tesco Express – drive home again and walk up myself. We come home on the 12:48 No. 8 bus from the top of Broughton Street. On yesterday’s showing, even that would have been impossible – too much hazardous walking for him on icy pavements. But the pavements seem clear this morning.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Compensations of Old Age

We’ve got a bit of snow, now. The cleaner is here for her second session and reports that the streets are ungritted and seriously treacherous. How satisfactory it is to be at home and warm with no need to go anywhere else. I’ll probably slip and break a femur when I go to get some sausages for lunch.

Yesterday was rather exciting.

a)      I got a Christmas card – no, let’s be strictly accurate, a Seasonal Greetings card – from the Obamas. And I didn’t even send them one.

I don’t know how this could have happened. I strongly suspect that my nephew Theo, currently fully engaged in stage-managing the Inauguration, must have inserted my name onto some list. Or maybe his wife Jenni did it, who is an Undersecretary of State at the Treasury.

I’m sure the card is printed. The most powerful man in the world – let alone his daughters and his wonderful wife -- could hardly take a week off work to sign ten thousand cards. But the Great Seal is really embossed.

For the moment, it is on the mantelpiece. My problem is, where to put it next, where our children will be sure to find it when I’m dead.

b)      I set out for the supermarket, and the car wouldn’t start. The battery was flat.

It’s an old car, and we’ve never had battery trouble before. I can’t really complain. I rang up the garage and a nice man came and put in a new battery and I gave him a cheque. In the old days in Glasgow in the ‘60’s, I can remember putting the battery in the pram – surely, with a baby there as well – and taking it down to the Byres Road to be charged.


I recalculated the length of Ed’s sweater, based on the reflections I mentioned yesterday, and, sure enough! an extra inch turned up. Ed is not tall, and I don’t want this thing to be down around his knees. So I ripped out what I had done, right back to the point where sleeves and body were joined, and started again.

It looked alarmingly big, when it was off the needles. But that would be the biggest point for total circumference, at the underarms, so I shall try not to worry.


No, Judith, I didn't know about Edinburgh's Secret Wild West. Fantastic! That must be over on what I think of as the "other side", where my husband's sister lived. I'd better go see it before they take it down.

I shall now put in an honest hour on the Income tax., while the cleaner toils on. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

There’s no snow yet in the Second New Town.

Hat, you’re quite right – those are winter aconites in Drummond Place Gardens, not Wooden Enemies. We planted some in Strathardle two years ago but they didn’t come up. We should try again – they ought to be easy.

Yesterday was a day of arithmetic. I have finished the Interest section of the Income Tax. For some sources, all the information was provided. For others, I had to do some work. If an account has earned £8.72 in net interest – and that is the sort of sum I was dealing with – how much was the gross interest given that tax has been deducted at 20%?

The spreadsheet could do the actual arithmetic, but I had to frame the question. The solution (I think) is to divide the net amount by 0.8. It is slightly alarming to reflect that if Asbury Park High School hadn’t been up to the mark on basic algebra, I would have to pay hundreds to an accountant.

Knitting was much the same. I worked out how deep the yoke would be, after decreasing once every three rounds, when I got to the point where half the sleeve stitches remained – half of the maximum number, at the top of the sleeve. And then how much would be added by the saddle, formed on those sleeve stitches.

The answer came out an inch shorter than the total I was aiming at, so I added a couple of plain rounds and am currently putting in a couple of short rows to raise the back.

It was only late at night, doing the final washing-up when you wouldn’t think any synapses would be firing at all, that I realised what I had done wrong. Those sleeve stitches are coming in from the side, so to speak. To calculate how much they will add to the total length of the sweater, I need to consider the stitch-gauge (about 5.5 to the inch) rather than the row-gauge (about 8.5).

So I’ve got to go back and re-calculate. And very likely, take out the plain rounds I knit yesterday.


Alexander turned up on the doorstep yesterday. He had come over to see the Bellany exhibition, which he had enjoyed. He looked well and cheerful. He said that shingles remains extremely irritating, but is somewhat less painful than at the beginning. He said he hoped we’d come over to Loch Fyne at Easter – I had wondered whether he would ever attempt a house party again.

In that case, I ought to be able to deliver the sweater to Ed personally. Last year I sent Rachel her birthday present by post and it wouldn’t go through the letter box so the postman took it away without leaving a card. Eventually it was returned to me, marked “Not Called For”. I can’t risk that with a madelinetosh sweater.

I decided not to worry about sleeve length. If it’s not right, there are adjustments which can be made and a couple of days at Loch Fyne should be sufficient for the purpose. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Oh, grannypurple! I am so glad to know it was you who found my knitting on the Google Images pages for the Calcutta Cup – now I have somewhere specific to direct my gratitude.

Life sort of intersected with knitting yesterday, to the detriment of the latter. How do you people who have lives all the time, manage to knit? How did I, in the old days?

I have joined the sleeves to the body of Ed’s Gardening Sweater, and have knit two rounds plain. I need to stop and think at this point, anyway.

Meg’s third article in Knitter’s – we’re up to Fall, 2000 by now – is full of calculations. And all she is doing is a simple raglan. I’m aiming for EZ’s Hybrid, to be found both in KwT and the Workshop. I’m already off base, because I was supposed to leave behind only 5% of K at the underarms for a Hybrid, and I have left 8%.

I’m not going to double back. In my long-ago Fair Isle days, before I had ever heard of EZ, I used to leave too few stitches – the first few rounds of all-together were tight and difficult, and I don’t think the underarm fit was very good.

The rate of decrease for the Hybrid is meant to be one round in three. I know how long I want the sweater to be, so I need to work out where that rate of decrease will get me, as I approach the neck, and how much height to allow for the saddle which constitutes the wonderfulness of the design. The body of the sweater, as Meg points out, can now serve as a gigantic swatch.

Better to face these things in the morning when some, at least, of the synapses are firing.


I made a good start on the Income Tax yesterday. The first piece of information they want, after name and date-of-birth, is interest earned on savings accounts and the like. That item took a big hit, three years ago, was it? when banks cut their interest rates to something totally risible. I was surprised to see, in my first calculations yesterday, that it’s fallen again, although our deposits are roughly as they were. Rates must have been cut from 1% to 0.5% while I wasn’t paying attention.

My mother, whose young adulthood was spent in the Depression, was terribly pleased in whatever post-war decade it was of high inflation, when she could get interest rates which sounded sensational. I used to get cross at her for not understanding that inflation was eating her money away like rats in the cellar.

And here I am in the same situation. 0.5% interest, 2.5% inflation.

On a more cheerful note, we tottered out after our late lunch for a little walk in Drummond Place Gardens yesterday. Crisp frost – the sort of weather Archie likes for rugby practice at school. He doesn’t have to practice tackling when the ground is frozen. They mince around for half an hour and then are allowed indoors. 

We saw the first snowdrops, and lots of Wooden Enemies, and a rhododendron (rhododendron praecox?) covered in flowers from head to foot.

2013 has started!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Busy day, yesterday. We had a pleasant lunch with our friend, and as soon as the dining room table was clear – not until late afternoon – I deployed the Income Tax papers there. All seems to be in order, and nothing much has changed since last year. But I must keep at it.

I was unspeakably tired at the end of the day.

Rachel phoned in the evening – her husband Ed has had laser surgery for a partially detached retina. It sounds as if things could be better done, in London. His optician referred him urgently in December. The letter got lost in the Christmas system. Recent attempts to chase it up were leading nowhere. He gave up and paid to have the treatment done privately.

When I had my retinal vein occlusion a few years ago, the optician phoned the eye hospital as I sat there. They phoned me at home a couple of hours later, and I saw a doctor there that afternoon. In my case treatment wasn’t urgent, although I eventually had successful laser surgery when things had settled down. On the NHS. With detached retinas, I believe, speed is essential.

It has been decided (by us) that the cases of chicken pox reported yesterday were probably caught from Alexander’s shingles, although it is not supposed to be very infectious.

The major excitement yesterday, however, was not any of that, but Unknown’s comment on my post of two days ago. When you ask Google Images for pictures of the Calcutta Cup, you get pages and pages of results. Observe, by the way, the battered image which occurs early on. Within fairly recent memory, in the days of the amateur game, those naughty young men got drunk in the evening of match day – it had been an English vistory, as usual, I believe – and kicked the Cup along Rose Street.

However, that’s not the point. Unknown bravely trawled on and on – and found, on page 10 or so, pictures of my knitting. But for her, I would have gone to my grave without knowing. I am thrilled to the core.

As for actual knitting, I have finished the second sleeve of Ed's Gardening Sweater. I mustn’t rush things – I must compare the two carefully to make sure they are, in fact, the same length; I must reflect carefully on whether, in fact, that is the length I want. But I have every reason to hope that I will be able to attach them today. And the new needles are here, all ready.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Now chicken pox has struck both in Beijing (James’ and Cathy’s youngest, Kirsty) and on the shores of Loch Fyne (both Little Boys). It’s a nasty disease, quite apart from having shingles up its sleeve.

I didn’t get in a session on the Surface yesterday, as I had to go to a bank and talk about a maturing bond. And may not today, as someone is coming to lunch. My plan is to download everything from Dropbox and arrange the files in the folders my husband is used to (since the downloading process is sort of awkward – I hope I can do it in batches).

As for knitting, there is but one more increase round to do, and then about 25 plain rounds – I’ve made a note of the exact number. Two more sessions, at worst. And then the exciting moment when sleeves are added to body and I move on to the third of Meg’s articles in Knitter’s 2000.

You are right, Kristie, that it’s disconcerting at first, just after the amalgamation,  to find how long it takes to go around all those stitches. But it’s fun to find them diminishing, as one seems to knit faster and faster. And it’s also very satisfactory to have the whole thing in one piece. That was always a great moment in my (largely unsuccessful) dressmaking career – when everything came together.

The new, longer circulars in “Symfonie wood” are on their way from Meadow Yarn. I paid a bit extra for first class. They should be here in time.

I recently bought Bruce Weinstein’s “Boyfriend Sweaters”. I like it, as I liked his earlier “Sweaters Men Want”. And I’m glad to see he’s all in favour of some ease, unlike Franklin. The ten-page introduction is excellent on the basics, illustrated with good drawings. There’s a tempting honeycomb stitch pullover in the Texture section, the one point in the book where I felt the lack of a drawing. “Insert right needle under and behind the strands across the front of the two previous right-side rows, then knit into the next stitch, lifting and catching the two strands”.

I suppose I could get it with a bit of practice. I wonder if it could be done in the round.

Still waiting for that Winter VK.

Monday, January 14, 2013

I made good progress with the Surface yesterday, thanks to Theresa’s comments. I have also taken Hat’s excellent advice and ordered “Microsoft Surface for Dummies”. Alas, not yet published.

I have dimmed the screen, thanks to Theresa, and found the virtual keyboard. I am still having trouble with Dropbox. I can access it all right, and there are all my husband’s files, as they should be. But I can’t set it up on the Surface.

Even the one in the Windows store won’t load (with no explanation or apology). Nor can I download it, as would be usual, from the Dropbox website – “won’t run on your device”. I suspect a conflict between it and the adjacent cloud onto which the Surface automatically backs up everything. So although we can download files from Dropbox on its cloud, and edit them, we can’t send them back up. Or at any rate, I haven't figured out how.

I’ve found a work-around. I’ve associated myself with the Surface cloud. I can download onto my desktop computer any file that my husband alters, and then drop it into Dropbox from there. He is rightly concerned that we mustn’t have multiple versions floating around in cyberspace – we must know where the definitive one is.

He is perfectly sound on matters like that, but I despair of his ever getting to grips with a computer. He has been using one for 30 years now, but he has never acquired the faintest notion of how they think. I smoothed his path by composing little macro’s in the old days. In the 90’s and 00’s when everyone in the world was mastering the basics of mice and logging on and how to create and arrange folders, he remained insulated. That experience of learning by interaction, familiar to us all, remains alien to him.

I fear it’s now too late. I think I’ll be able to make the Surface usable for him. I doubt if I’ll ever get him surfing the Web. That can be a task for his grandsons Archie or Alistair, the next time they’re here. And good luck to them.


The sleeve speeds forward – more than half-way there, measured length-wise, although that’s deceptive because I’m still increasing stitches.

My sister registers no more than modified rapture for the Vitamin D pattern. But maybe Scotland will win the Calcutta Cup on Groundhog Day and I will be fully employed for the following six months, thus postponing the decision about the fate of the Japanese shirt.

If that happens,  I really must contrive to see it. I never have. It is genuinely of Indian manufacture, dating from the days when it was played for by Scottish and English civil servants in Calcutta itself. One of the oldest sporting trophies in the world, considered as a physical object. And I must be one of very few, to have knit it.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

We are going to attempt Mass this morning, for the first time since December 23. We all stayed on to lunch in Inverary that day, and have since wondered if that was the point at which the Dread Lurgy joined the party.

We had a reasonably successful day with the Surface yesterday, but it’s tough going, and I have made a rod for my own back. I need some time with it on my own, to try to solve various problems – and I will need to sit beside my husband for quite a while as he gets used to Microsoft Word and screen-touching. I’m not very fluent in Word myself. I deeply lament the demise of the instruction manual, a form of literature I once much enjoyed.

And I must get the Income Tax done: that's not optional.

But we’ve set the Surface up, and gone on-line, and figured out how to import files through the famous USB port. It couldn’t “see” our old detachable disk drive, but it can read a memory stick. I hope we will be able to access Dropbox, up there in the Cloud, where most of my husband’s work already resides. An initial attempt at that failed.

My husband thinks he wants to try using a virtual keyboard instead of the nifty slimline physical one with which the machine comes provided. I googled that question last night and think I learned that there is a virtual keyboard, but where? The Microsoft website denied all knowledge of the phrase. It occurred to me during the watches of the night that probably all we need to do is detach the physical one.

One of the things I look forward to my husband learning, is how slow and frustrating web searches can prove. He won't like it.

He also wants the screen to be less bright.


Little to report. The sleeve progresses nicely. I have ordered longer Knit Pro needles for the delicious moment fast approaching when sleeves and body join.


Jean from Cornwall, thank you very much for the rhyme about Candlemas (which =’s, of course, the Feast of the Purification), and Mary Lou for reminding me that it’s the day when throats are blessed. Around here, it’s more or less the moment when one can see and feel the returning light, and a highly appropriate one, therefore, for calculating whether spring might be ready to settle down and stay. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

We opened our Christmas presents yesterday. My husband is delighted with his Surface – a good start. For blackness and lightness and slimness, it makes my beloved iPad look positively second millennium. The temptation is to snatch it back and set it up for him, but I will try to resist. Better for them to get acquainted as they go along.

Thanks for the encouraging comments about the Calcutta Cup. There’s always a chance – to express it in terms of the only other team sport I was ever interested in, namely 1940’s major league baseball, even the Philadelphia Phillies sometimes beat the Yankees. Reports suggest that the Scottish team were chagrined by the dreadful performance against Fiji which prompted their rather good manager to resign. And England (like the Yankees, back then) will regard the match as won before it starts. It could be an interesting combination. 

In 2000, the match was played here, at the end of the International season. England had won every game. Scotland had lost every one (familiar story). The Scotsman newspaper invited comments that morning from various pundits, one of whom said -- I wish I had cut it out and saved it -- that the only hope for Scotland would be if the England team didn't turn up. 

But that glorious victory was at Murrayfield, not at Twickenham. Princess Anne was there, as she regularly, loyally, is for Scotland's rugby matches. After the final whistle, she presented the Calcutta Cup to Scotland and then looked around for England who had, after all, won the Five Nations Trophy. But they were nowhere to be seen. 

I’ll have a look at the madelinetosh colours at Jimmy Bean, just in case.

The second sleeve of the Gardening Sweater progresses well.

Zite brought the “Vitamin D” pattern to my attention again yesterday. I’m pretty sure I’ve already got the pattern, bought as an alternative to the Effortless. Sister Helen, would you wear something like that, when you say “cardigan”?


Sarahseattle, you may well be right that we are getting near the point where my husband will need extra oxygen. Our doctor has mentioned the possibility. As soon as I’ve done the Income Tax, we need to go see him anyway, to enlist his help in getting our disability badge for the car.

Kristie, no, we don’t have Groundhog Day over here and since there is little or no profit to be made from it, it hasn’t been imported yet like Mother’s Day and Hallowe’en. (Hallowe’en is native to Scotland, but has recently been much commercialised. Mother’s Day is native, too; it was once much simpler.) There is a similar, little-known superstition in the north of England attaching to the Feast of the Purification, which falls on February 2 – I have always assumed that Groundhog Day is derived from that, but purged of religion.

It makes much more sense as an English event, when a period of grey, overcast low pressure can indeed mean that spring is with us whereas crisp, bright high pressure can well mean the opposite. Groundhog Day used to puzzle me, when I was young in Detroit and then the Jersey shore – obviously, on February 2, there are six more weeks of winter to come. What’s to discuss? 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fortunately your comment, Knitlass, came in before we set forth yesterday. Our expedition would have been impossible without taxis both ways, and at least we didn’t waste any time arguing about it. [Please publish the recipe for the scrap hat soon!]

It’s a good show – Bellany at the Royal Academy. Much more varied than I expected. My husband, however, began to find himself short of oxygen before we finished. He often grumbles about this at exhibitions, but I don’t remember previously having to stagger away before the job was done. While we were waiting for the return taxi in that room at the back door of the Royal Academy building, I noticed a couple of wheelchairs against the wall. The next time we attempt art, I’ll ring up in advance and see if one is available.

Bellany would have been a good exhibition for wheelchair viewing, since everything is so large.


Here, at last, the Gardening Sweater, with the first sleeve finished. The ribbing of the second is nearly so. I think I will be much more comfortable with a longer circular at that interesting stage where the sleeves have just been attached, and I always like an excuse to buy another KnitPic.

Flash photography in the early-morning gloom has darkened it somewhat, but you get the idea. 

The Calcutta Cup is coming up pretty soon – on Groundhog Day, I believe. That’s the annual rugby match between Scotland and England. The papers are full of bellicose statements from players and coaches about how we’re going to whup ‘em. I had thought that Scotland hadn’t won in London (where the match is played in odd-numbered years) since the war, but it turns out we had a victory in the ‘80’s, and a draw that same decade.

So I’m thinking about the sweaters I’m going to knit. I have promised sweaters for the Little Boys at Loch Fyne, but it occurred to me that Archie might like one too, involved as he is with so rugby-loving a school. If it were a pale colour, I could represent the Cup and the date unobtrusively with purl stitches, like initials on a gansey.

Or something more like Ketki’s sweater from ’08, with the details in a Fair Isle band around the bottom or perhaps around a sleeve. Scotland won in ’00, ’06 and ’08, with a draw in what must have been ’10. I have knit for each occasion – ’10 was a hat for James-the-Younger, showing half the Cup.

It is pleasant to speculate, the more so because it won’t happen.

I’ve also been thinking about my Koigu resolution, and looking through various appropriate books. I have pretty well decided on another basic-shape sweater with Koigu in stripes, like this one, knit for Rachel in 2006.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cleaning went well, and I feel rather hopeful about the prospect of Getting a Grip. Joanna, for that is her name, blitzed the kitchen for two hours before my husband got up, and then polished off the ironing. She’ll be back on Saturday of next week.

I’m still not feeling quite on top of my game, physically, post norovirus. Or maybe I have just slipped another step down the pathway of inevitable decline. Whatever, we are going to attempt some Art today – the Bellany retrospective at the National Gallery. The first problem will be getting there. I am not sure my husband will want to walk even as far as Dundas Street, whence a bus would take us to the door.

I must face up to getting a Disabled badge for the car, as soon as I’ve done the Income Tax.

The other thing we must face up to is opening our own Christmas presents. I know what mine is – the new Alice Munro collection. My husband’s is that Microsoft Surface I was talking about. His grandson Alistair was booked to give him a tutorial in its use on Boxing Day, over there on the shores of Loch Fyne. If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans for tomorrow. I’m not at all sure I feel up to it. He will be irritated by the learning process, and will express himself in terms he would not have used to Alistair.

Knitting, last night, hit a snag which, when I tell you of it, will increase the sense of creeping senility implied in the paragraphs above.

I wound the new skein, attached it, and knit perhaps an inch and a half at the top of the sleeve before I grasped that I was using a ball of madelinetosh Dusty Rose (I think it’s called) – left over from that EZ jacket I recently finished. In tone, if not in colour, it is similar to the Firewood (I think it’s called) which I am using for the Gardening Sweater, and of course on my fingers it felt exactly the same. And light is not all that revealing, this time of year.

I don’t know why the almost-complete ball was lying about – it should have been in the stash cupboard in a bag with the other recent left-over reds.

The moral of the story is my favourite of EZ’s maxims – Look at your knitting.

Once I did that, the mistake was easily rectified. The red came out, the stitches stood up handsomely for reclaiming, the inch and a half has been re-knit with the right yarn. 

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

It was good to hear from you yesterday, Catdownunder. You’re all right, then? The pictures on television are horrendous. The first actual-human-being I ever met after her becoming a cyber-friend, a Californian, lost everything in such a fire. It must have been somewhere in the early 90’s. She and her husband had been out walking the dog on a Sunday morning, knowing there was fire on the other side of the hill. They realized the more serious truth in time to get back and get in the car, with the dog but nothing else.

Erin, thank you for the Tweedy-Stripey. I’ve downloaded and printed. That’s one I think could be re-cast for a finer yarn with highly satisfactory results. I was interested to see that she begins with the st-st-curl which I had already decided to use, whatever the pattern said.

The cleaner is here, tackling the kitchen with vigour. I am hopeful. She won’t mean more time for me, but she will mean more cleanth and order. And I think it will indeed be possible to arrange things so that I can reserve sensitive dusting for myself. Occasionally.

And meanwhile my own get-a-grip resolutions are proceeding relatively well. My first task, Jan 1-10, was to sort through and deal with the piles of financial-type paper here around my computer. I’m not finished, but much has been achieved.

And as for knitting, I decided I had finished the sleeve increases at 96 stitches -- this is Ed's Gardening Sweater -- and would be nearly to the armpit by now had it not become necessary to wind another skein.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

“I Let the Houseplants Die – One Woman’s Story” I love it! And even more do I love the way you and your mother cut it out and sent it to each other simultaneously. Thanks, Stashdragon.

I spent some time with Roz Chast yesterday, looking through Google Images for the page I think I remember, without success but with much pleasure. My mother was expected to be one of those Stepford Wives teetering about the house in high heels during the 1950’s, admiring her washing machine. It wasn’t a role that suited her. She would have loved Roz Chast.

Our Polish cleaning woman is coming tomorrow at 8, so I will have to spend some time today sorting out the dusters and exploring the inner recesses of the refrigerator. Helen clearly thinks that a clean-out there would be a good place to start.

My husband is behaving exactly like your friend’s father, Shandy. “More damage is done to furniture by servants than anything else except flood.” We have some good things, and some pictures in gilt frames which send gold flakes cascading floor-wards at the slightest touch of a duster. I think it will be possible to work around these difficulties.

And also around the greater difficulty of my husband’s occupation of the kitchen for his breakfast during most of the morning. A cleaner needs free access to the kitchen. That’s why she’s coming before first light tomorrow, before he gets up.

We shall see.

As for knitting, the sleeve is progressing well. I am nearing the point – should reach it today – when I have to decide a precise figure for the final number of stitches. “35-40% of K” leaves a 10-stitch grey area undetermined. It is time I showed you a picture – soon.

Thank you for your comforting remarks about gents’ sweaters and ease – and, indeed, layering.

Helen just phoned to say she is in Athens, and Archie successfully installed at Merchiston for another term. She reminds me that I was going to knit him some kilt hose. She says her husband doesn't think a cleaner will be able to stick it, here. Helen and I have some faith in our woman.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Not much knitting, yesterday, but the sleeve of Ed’s Gardening Sweater must have advanced an inch or so.

You’ll have seen that Franklin has a pattern in the new VK, which must be scheduled for the doormat this very week if I’m lucky. There’s glory for you, beyond even being clever and funny and wonderful.

But I am worried about his observations about sweaters for men – that they should have not much ease, and be tapered from shoulder to waist.

I suspect he’s right on both counts. That’s what comes of being an art historian (his major at Harvard, I believe) and learning to look. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Consider again the two pictures I posted the other day – Thomas-the-Elder’s ill-fitting Brownstone, and Joe’s much more successful Grandson Sweater. I think Franklin’s point is made. And my anxiety, of course, is about the Gardening Sweater. It’s not tapered. It probably has too much ease. Ed is, like Franklin himself, short of stature, trim and fit. I’ve missed the boat.

Maybe one wants a bit of ease in the garden. This isn’t a sweater for the office, even on dress-down Friday. And anyway, there’s nowhere to go from here but on.

Thank you for the tip, CSJ0423, about the Big Rubble. I like it a lot. I don’t think it will do in the present case, because the yarn I’ve got is so fine. Not that we can’t plug our own gauge into any schematic, these days. But I think I’ll keep this one up my sleeve as an excuse for actually buying some of Jared’s Shelter yarn one day soon. I did buy and print the “Boxy” pattern yesterday.


Helen fetched Archie from the airport last night, and soon both will be gone. We met the Polish cleaning woman yesterday – young, pretty, business-like. I feel hopeful, in a battered sort of way.

I have a half-feeling – can anyone help me here? – that my favourite cartoonist, Roz Chast, once did a page in the New Yorker of cartoons which showed an energetic middle-aged woman swooping down on her aged parents and putting things to rights. The only one I can specifically remember, and this isn’t guaranteed, had the parents looking abashed while the daughter admonished them: “A whole drawer full of ball-point pens, and none of them work!”

I’ve tried looking through the Chasts on Google images, without success.

Helen will take Archie to school at midday and then go on to the airport, thence to Athens.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Time to take the Christmas tree down. We've come through again!

All well here, progressing towards health. My husband has recovered some appetite.

Helen is whirlwinding about, cooking wild boar at the moment so that we can store it as frozen ready-meals, a much more welcome prospect than my having to tackle it from scratch. She has also done the ironing and secured the services of a Polish cleaning woman. Maybe 2013 will be the year in which I do, in fact, get a grip.

The Gardening Sweater continues well. Going round and round the sleeve is utterly satisfying, like a big sock. I’m knitting it on five needles so far, and I’m about 7” along what will eventually be a 16” or !7” sleeve.

Thank you for the enthusiastic comments about the Boxy. It’s a very popular pattern – there are project reports on Ravelry in German and French and what I take to be Norwegian and Japanese. I am still slightly worried about the bulk of fabric under the arms, but all the reports are enthusiastic. And some of them are even knit in madelinetosh sock yarn, which is what I’ve got.

I think I’ll at least buy-and-print.

Odds and ends:

There’s a knitting cartoon in the current New Yorker.

There seems to be an exhibition of Loes Veenstra’s work in Rotterdam at the moment. She is the Dutch woman who has knitted more than 500 sweaters and kept them unworn in boxes at home. I suspect they are largely if not entirely of her own design -- colour seems to be her thing. One of the great advantages of her eccentric system is that she wouldn’t have had to worry much about fit.

The link in the paragraph above (from Zite, of course) is to a blog posting by Stephen West, a designer new to me. He seems to concentrate on accessories. There is much of interest. 

Friday, January 04, 2013

Helen is safely here. She brought us a large frozen bloody lump of wild boar – real wild boar, shot and roughly butchered by a neighbour on Mount Pelion. We will not be strong enough for such fare for a week or two. I will let you know how it goes.

The weather is wonderfully warm and open. We could have nipped up to Strathardle with Helen if we had been fighting fit.

I made a good start on the first sleeve of the Gardening Sweater yesterday. I think I will make it slightly shorter than my measurements dictate.

Too long:

(That was Christmas, '11.)

Just about right: 

Thank you for the help and advice with the Japanese shirt. I am powerless to start again until I decide what to do. This morning I’m drifting back towards Helen C.K.S.’ suggestion of the Boxy pattern. It can be knit in the round. The sleeves might have to be wider to accommodate a shirt with a collar beneath – the antique face needs a frame. Or possibly not -- the top of the Boxy sleeves looks wide enough to accommodate the short sleeves of a polo shirt.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

The bad news is that my husband had a brief attack of diarrhoea yesterday (I have learned to spell it) which set him back a bit. The good news is that Greek Helen will be here this evening, for a few days on her own; a great treat for us. And I made a good start on grip-getting yesterday.

As you imply, both Sarahs, it is important to take it in chewable amounts. I have begun with the piles of paper which surround my computer – January is income tax month, so I more or less have to begin there. This year’s innovation is to break the job into bite-sized pieces and write them down.

Knitting went well. The body is finished up to the armholes, 8% of K left on waste yarn at each armhole, the calculation done as to how many stitches to cast on for the sleeve. That means I have moved on from the Spring to the Summer issue of Knitter’s 2000, where Meg revisited the EPS in four episodes. That really feels like progress.

And thanks for the help with my vague floundering about the Japanese yarn. You mean that book by Pam Dawson, Hat? That one was a Big Step Forward in my knitting history. I found the overblouse you mention. It is presented with variations. There are possibilities there.

I feel I own “Knit Real Shetland”, Lol. The cover looks awfully familiar. But LibraryThing doesn’t credit me with it  (that’s not conclusive; I’m behind with entering new books there, as with much else) and it’s not where it ought to be on the shelf (with the other Jamieson books) or here in the pile of new arrivals.

In any event, I found the Viking shirt on good old Ravlery and it is interesting too.

My sister has entered the story by saying that she would wear the Japanese shirt if I finished it. So that’s a possibility, although it doesn’t get past the difficulty that I feel I am utterly bogged down.

The thing is to finish Ed’s Gardening Sweater, and then try knitting more of the shirt and see how it goes. Meanwhile continuing to flounder about in the overblouse/loose tee area. I want something part of which, at least, can be knit in the round so that I can have one-row stripes. Something big enough to wear a shirt underneath.

I could also usefully start thinking about Koigu again.