Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Progress on the Neap Shawl feels slower now that there are so many stitches; in fact, it is moving forward nicely. I’ll stop increasing at the end of the present pattern repeat, and put in one of those stitch markers like a little plastic safety pin – normally a nuisance, but just what’s wanted here to mark the beginning of the long straight centre section. The kitchen scales assure me that there are still 57 grams in the ball -- and it's only required to get halfway across.

“Knitting” magazine turned up yesterday – I think I’ve had every issue since the beginning, although I haven’t added them to my over-extensive archives. I’ve never been tempted to knit anything I’ve seen there – is it the relatively unsophisticated photography? or the actual designs? I suspect the latter.

I was interested, however, in the pattern called “Arela”. The magazine says: “It’s two garments in one: a back-opening jumper and an elegant cardigan.” In Ohio in the 1950’s we often wore cardigans backwards. When I got to Glasgow in ’54 the notion was thought so very peculiar that I quickly abandoned it. What goes around, comes around.

But the major interest in the new issue lies elsewhere, in an article about independent dyers – much like Ginger Twist, where I recently spent a lot of money, although she isn’t included in the article. I had never thought of the basic idea of the article, that when one is laboriously constructing something, for weeks or months, it is particularly satisfying to be working with materials which are themselves unique and hand-crafted.

I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that, although it is a very interesting idea. Kate Davies’ Buachaille yarn isn’t hand-dyed (is it?), but when I finally knit something from it, I don’t think that will be a drawback.

The other idea which percolates through the current issue of “Knitting” is that of interchangeable needles (again). And, again, the drawback for me is that they don’t seem to come in the smaller sizes which is what I mostly knit with. Jeanette Sloan in “Ask Jeanette” distinctly implies that you can get them down to 2.75mm, although all the information I have so far clicked on, starts at 3.5mm or so.  Jeanette used to run an excellent LYS overlooking the Meadows: I can’t count her quite as a friend, but surely an acquaintance, and always read her article.

But this issue is full of food for thought – and things to explore on-line.

I got the latest Knitter’s Review in my email in-tray this morning – an interesting article about British yarns, prompting enough thoughts that I’ll leave it until tomorrow.


  1. Cardigans worn backwards in the UK. In the early 1960's my mother had a friend who was a full time working woman, a real professional not just another mother,in fact no children at all and single, think Barbara Pym character. She frequently wore her cardigans back to front with wonderful pearl necklaces. My sister and I thought her so glamorous and exciting but the first time we saw the backwards cardigan my little sister wanted to know if she had forgotten how to put it on correctly! My mother was mortified!

  2. Jean, several years ago I bought fixed cable length needles with stiletto tips from They were pricier than any needles I'd bought before, but have been worth every penny. Absolutely outstanding in every way. The company now makes only convertibles in circular needles; the smallest one is a 3.25mm. While you wouldn't be able to get the smallest you'd like, it might be fun to try the smallest they offer and see if you like it. It truly makes split stitches a thing of the past.

  3. I avoided interchangeables for a long time because I tend to use the smaller sizes as well. Also, I don't like the short needle length of many. A few years ago I did buy a set of Hiya Hiya interchangeables, smallest size is 2.75, you can choose longer needle length and sharp or regular. I do really like them and even bought a set of the larger sizes. I have to say I don't enjoy knitting with the Signatures, but many do.

  4. Anonymous1:57 PM

    The spring/summer Vogue Knitting came this week and contains a product announcement for twist mini-interchangeable needles from ChiaoGoo. Five tip sizes from US 000-1.5.
    I have one pair of ChiaoGoo that I love, but they are quite expensive.

  5. I love my Knit Picks interchangeables so much I have 3 sets (Rosewood, Caspian, and metal). Good price for the knitter on a budget, and pointy enough to use for lace. I do need to check every so often, make sure they're still screwed in tightly but for between 50-70 dollars per set that includes needles from #4-11, can't beat 'em imho. Since my most used shawl-makers are around size 5, they've been a good investment.
    I'm not sure I want interchangeables in the small sizes, really. Small needles are mostly for magic-loop socks (aka the only way I make socks) and the way I knit 'em does require sturdy needles and I'd be nervous about an interchangeable standing up, not coming undone, ect. I've managed to break 2? 3? needles doing socks (thank goodness for KP's it broke we replace policy) & bent several others (including most of my non Knit Picks sock needles so I know it's not just a quality issue, I really am mean to sock needles without meaning to be).

  6. Hi Jean, I am pretty sure that I first came across Natalie (The Yarn Yard) and her hand-dyed yarn after a mention in your blog, but that was more than 5 years ago.

  7. I have a set of ChiaoGoo interchangeable needles that go down to 2.75mm. They are pricey (I bought mine with an inheritance) but my favourite needles ever for lace - just the right amount of pointiness, a bit of grip on the needle but not too much, and the best behaved cables I have ever had.

  8. Anonymous3:45 AM

    I just saw a new Shibui pattern for a reversible cardigan - Aurora
    It's a combination of linen (chain-yarn) and an alpaca-wool mix yarn.

    I like the Shibui linen for scarves but it took some time for me to learn a way to darn in the slippery ends reasonably.
    I now use a sewn method of joining the yarns using a sharp needle over a 10cm overlap of the two strands.

    There is another overlapping-back sweater I saw but I have to look up the name.

    have a good week

  9. Anonymous4:23 AM

    Ah Chinadoll003 provided the overlapping-back sweater name - Tulip.
    This one is a sleeveless model.

  10. Another option for the small interchangeables is Dyakcraft - handmade in Vermont. Their Heavy Metal needles go down to 2.0mm and I've been using them several years and love them. But you are right, you don't "need" interchangeables