Friday, August 08, 2014

Great excitement here – Matt and Hellie are engaged!

He phoned last night, within the first 15 minutes of his new status. That was sweet. He said he had decided that waiting for Liverpool to win the League might take too long after all. Plans, insofar as they exist, are for next summer and Loch Fyne, but we've got to think about the midges.

Hellie's mother Rachel phoned a bit later for a wee shriek. Matt had spoken to her husband on the subject a week before – the young sometimes turn out to be touchingly old-fashioned. His parents also knew, but no one else. Hellie had long admired a ring of her (other) grandmother's which Rachel had inherited. A clandestine meeting was arranged in a Pret a Manger so that Rachel could hand it over to Matt.

It was slightly odd, to pick up the Unst Bridal Shawl after receiving this news. I knit the Princess with the vague intention that it was for granddaughters and granddaughters-in-law to wear on their wedding days. That left any particular bride free to say no, thanks, I'd rather be married in jodhpurs. Or so I felt. I am overjoyed that Thomas's bride will wear it on November 1 but she didn't have to.

But the Unst shawl is different, with all its imperfections. It is being knit for Hellie. It must be made clear to her that she's not stuck with it. There are plenty more weddings to come, insh'Allah.

As for other knitting, I did my Rams and Yowes stint and have started the legs of the final rank of yowes. I should finish them today. Thank you for your help with the border. I am much taken with your idea, Knitting08816, of picking up stitches for two borders, one on each side of the steek stitches; joining them with a 3-needle bind-off when they're big enough, and then proceeding with some ribbing with double yarn. We'll see.

As for Kitchener stitch, I feel like you, Jean from Cornwall, that the existence of the leaflet in yesterday's link is enough to explain the phrase “Kitchener stitch”. I feel like whoever it was, when he discovered the source of the Nile. When I got started on this, 15 years or so ago, the OED didn't have it – and I mean the great big multi-volumned OED as supplied on CD-ROM. I'm glad to hear they've moved on, and I think they've got earlier quotations (by a bit) than any I had mustered.

But the issue wasn't just early citations, it was also why. And now we know.

My own theory is that despite occasional references to the “Kitchener toe” in the interbellum period, the phrase didn't really get going until patriotic knitting started up again in WWII. I was very interested to hear that your mother didn't know of it, Lou.

Devoted readers will remember, for I'm sure I've mentioned it before, that I wrote on the subject both to Msgr Rutt and to the then-current Lord Kitchener. Rutt replied at once, a kind letter – he was interested, and of course had tracked down early appearances of many a knitting term unknown to dictionaries. But he couldn't help with “Kitchener stitch”. Lord Kitchener took a year to reply, and was much briefer. He had never heard of it. I treasure both letters.

I am doubtful about whether ungrafted sock toes were really that bad for the wearer, although grafted ones were probably better. And I agree, of course, Tamar, that Kitchener had nothing to do with the invention of grafting or of grafted sock toes. I have an early (pre WWI) book myself in which sock toes are grafted.

I'll return to the subject of Archie's sweater tomorrow.


  1. Wonderful news!
    Best wishes to All!

  2. Regarding un-grafted sock toes - my law Mum-in-Law used to avoid grafting, and do a three needle cast off. This meant that the ridge was on the outside of the sock, and certainly didn't cause any problems to the feet of the wearer. The only way to get it on the inside would have been to turn the sock inside out while still on the needles - surely it would have been easier to learn to graft!
    The only way grafting could have been involved in the heel of a sock would surely have been if someone did an afterthought heel - did anyone do that back that far? WWI had been and gone before the auto heel cropped up in Woolcraft - it was all the more technical stuff till then as far as I have seen.
    I, for one, am inclined to keep on calling it grafting - I learned it from the 13th edition of Woolcraft, which is where I got my basic sock recipes. And a rather nice cardigan that I made for the dear OH.

  3. P.S. Congratulations to the young ones! Always good news to hear.

  4. Congratulations to Matt and Hellie! May they have many, many years of happiness.

    After reading your blog yesterday I did have a look through the 1917 Woolcraft (9th edition), which is available online, and found that it did use grafted toes, but called them just that. I find it strange, given how revered Lord Kitchener was here, that the name was not picked up in the UK. It's a real puzzle. I'd love to see some earlier versions of Woolcraft and I'm looking through other pre1917 knitting books I've found online to see what toes they recommend. The Woolcraft also gives details of a round toe, which would completely remove the necessity for grafting.

  5. P.S. The 1917 US "Khaki Knitting Book" does not mention grafting at all
    1917 Woolcraft is available here (scroll down):

  6. I'm sure Hellie will say yes to the Unst as well. Happy news.

  7. Marvelous news! I really tried to pay attention to your thoughts about Kitchener but I kept getting distracted by Matt & Hellie Are Engaged! thoughts...

  8. Jean....besides using the casing technique on blanket edges, I have also used it on open neck collars so that you get a finished look from both sides. Try it on a swatch (not necessarily a steeked swatch. Looks great. Leslie in NJ aka Knitting08816

  9. Just reread your don't have to do a three needle bnd off...just knit a front and and back stitch together and have live stitches to do the ribbing. Easy to adjust as you get to each corner...and you can leave a corner stitch and increase on either side of it...or if you want to do a 2x2 rib, 2 corner stiches...I usually leave 2 knit stitches as my miter. Ask any questions you want...

  10. Last comment....I forgot to mention congrats on the engagement. Hellie sounds like she has been dreaming of wearing a habd knit shawl since she was a baby dressed in handknits....she will be thrilled, I am sure.

  11. Such exciting news, Jean! I think it is going to be hard for you to stick with Rams and Yowes now that you have a serious reason to be knitting the Unst shawl. :-)

  12. What lovely news! The rituals of weddings never cease to amaze me - all that pressure to think of original and memorable ways to propose. That wasn't in a Pret a Manger, presumably?

  13. What wonderful news! Congratulations. You seem very fond of Matt, and I think this bodes well for a long and happy marriage with your granddaughter. :(

    1. Sorry, that was to be a smiley face!!! :) :) :)

    2. Anonymous6:41 AM

      Re: The Midges
      Find out what kind of repellant is recommended for mosquitoes in Minnesota and order a gross in sufficient time to arrive in Scotland. We encountered midges in the Highlands more than ten years ago and I still have scars
      Pat B in Seattle

  14. =Tamar3:42 PM

    Congratulations all around!
    That is a lovely ring.
    Thanks f or the idea of how to do a casing for a steeked blanket; I've had a vague idea for some years now of doing one but never figured how to deal with the edges.