Saturday, March 04, 2017

James’ son Alistair (computer science, Glasgow University) has come over for the day and night, and they have gone out for a Chinese. So here I am.

I did get the shawl blocked yesterday, and here it is:

It is small – I’m not going to measure again just now, but it’s three or four inches shorter on all sides than Mrs Hunter of Unst expects. I think it’s big enough for its purpose – to be not a fancy, kept-for-best shawl but a useful accessory for a summer baby. I am afraid you can see a clear line, to the right of the centre square, where I grafted it to the border.

On the other hand, this is the corner I sewed (having knit the borders with one corner open in order to achieve garter stitch and avoid purling). I simply overcast it, and I think the result is pretty successful.

I have gone on thinking about Fair Isle vests, and watching Mary Jane Mucklestone’s Craftsy class on the subject. She’s got a good lesson on colour. There are lots of examples on Ravelry of different people’s versions of the pattern supplied with the class. I was impressed with how good almost all of them look.

Here’s something I keep meaning to tell you: I find, in my copy of Sheila McGregor’s Fair Isle book, a print-out of something Liz Lovick posted in 2006. She says that in Shetland, “steek” means “stitch”, full stop. She says that she discussed this with a wide variety of knitters there. They were unanimous on the point, and their responses to the alternative meaning, often unprintable.

The reason I have put this interesting document in McGregor’s book is that Shetland knitters believe, Lovick says, that she was the first to use the word “steek” in its modern sense.

She says that a generation ago, Shetland knitters would either knit back and forth above the armholes, or, if they couldn’t stand purling, would cut the yarn at the end of every row and push the stitches back to the other end of the needle. Modern knitters, Lovick says, either do one of those two things, or use what amounts to a steek for the armholes without using the word.

Hazel Tindall herself used “steek” in our sense in a post to some forum or other that I read only yesterday, so things must have changed in the last decade. It happens – just as British knitters now speak confidently of “Kitchener stitch” which used to be an exclusively American phrase. Thanks, I am sure, to the internet.


  1. Hi Jean:

    I enlarged your pictures quite a bit and really couldn't discern the line. Even if you see it, the baby and family won't see it and won't care about it. I think it is simply stunning and can hardly believe how quickly you finished it!


  2. It is a good practical colour too.
    Liz is an excellent source of information and very generous about passing it on. My paternal grandmother would refer to a "steek" too. She only meant a stitch and I only came across the term in McGregor and then Zimmermann - Starmore came later.

  3. The shawl is wonderful! And I can't see a line. I'm sure it is going to be a much loved and often used item!

  4. Just to echo others' comments on the size, colour and finishing of the shawl - it is a lovely, practical item that will mean the world to the new parents.

  5. Anonymous11:35 AM

    Beautiful shawl. No buts. The grafting line - seen or unseen - just shows that this is a handmade item and thefore the new little one is being wrapped in love. As my husband firmly reminds me whenever I knit something for him which I always wish were a little more perfect:). Chloe

  6. Anonymous1:21 PM

    What a beautiful gift, Jean. It's a very modern colour which babies of both genders wear today. Hopefull it won't be too long now before the wee one arrives to be cuddled in the shawl. Catriona

  7. Gorgeous shawl, Jean. Such beautiful work.

  8. So lovely. And Mrs. Hunter probably had one of those giant stretching racks.

  9. Gorgeous. Lucky baby! It will be warm and comforting and much appreciated !

  10. Shawl is sooo beautiful - love the pattern and the colour, am in awe of your skill.